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"Chicago Streetwise Editorial " & "The Citizen"



     SCHOOL HAD JUST STARTED and my social life was about to change as this ten year old had just really discovered Rock and Roll the way it should be…on the radio.  I had a brown wooden Admiral radio with three knobs on/off/volume tone and the big one TUNING. Prior to 1953 my listening experiences were with the stations at the left end of the AM dial.  WIND WGN WBBM WLS  WCFL WJJD.  Even with extreme concentration I cannot remember much about those stations and what they were playing.  Let me guess, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Perry Como, Patti Page,  Teresa Brewer, Frankie Laine, Frankie Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Prez Prado.  There was something spicy about “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” Cha Cha Cha!!! Oh, I just remembered “Rags To Riches by Tony Bennett, and he’s still recording…”I Want To Be Around” and he is.  So the future becomes the past and …
     NOW IT’S 1955 and one night my mom went out and, that’s when I get the chance to sleep in her room, with the best table top radio in the house. I now get the chance to twist the dials on the new sleek shiny, again, Admiral…and instead of Percy Faith snap AM crackle noise pop hiss  WHOP BOP A LOOMA IT’S LITTLE RICHARD in the room singing TUTTI FRUTTI and I am a different person.  I had dialed down to 1390 AM and for the first time heard WGES, the station with Sam Evans, know on the air as “Jam With Sam”.  At that point it was all over for the other end of the dial, although those stations would continue to add those rock ‘n roll records to their programming to make us keep coming back.  Yes Wally Phillips did play some doo-wops during his time at WGN.  I can still hear him saying “That’s the El Dorados and ‘At My Front Door’ on WGN.  At that point I knew something was up with this music. Years later I would meet my namesake and musical transformer Little Richard at a downtown hotel to record an interview for WVON.  In person he was a lot of animated fun.
     1957 Probably the real benchmark year for rock and roll on the radio and 14 year old Richard Pegue was enjoying, loving, and sucking up the radio.  Every possible minute was spent seeking and finding new places on the dial music or talk.  My little brown wooden cabinet radio to the world now had about fifty feet of grounded wire draped across the roof and here comes the world!!!  And now HERE COMES FRANKIE LYMON Frankie Lymon not Laine or Sinatra.  The question?  “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” The answer, ‘Because kid groups are almost guaranteed success especially if they have a great sound and arrangement along with personality and exposure.  The TEENAGERS had all of these, and the right New York business connections via their label ownership with George Goldner’s GEE and Rama records.  The movie “Rock Rock Rock" helped propel the group and their style around the world.  It happened so fast for the Teenagers and Frankie Lymon with their major hits all recorded aired played and sold in a matter less than two years.  Group splits, Frankie dips, and no more sales or demand for the group, until the OLDIE REVIEW SHOWS surfaced again and again.  New York with DJ Alan Freed showed ‘em how to do those well attended concerts and later Dick Clark and Motown’s Barry Gordy followed the format around
 the country.

     THANK YOU MAMA for going out that night in 1955 and letting me get to that Admiral clock radio, and thanks to Little Richard and Jam with Sam on WGES 1390.

SOME  26 YEARS LATER in 1981 we find Richard Pegue named Program Director at 1390…then WGCI AM “Dusty Radio 1390” with Mr. Pegue playing Little Richard records on Saturday nights for others to hear. Life can be a circle. Now Richard’s on WKKC 89.3fm Sundays at 10am.

The Citizen



     I AM RICHARD PEGUE and this is my first column for this wonderful newspaper.  It’s an honor to work with the staff and management at the CITIZEN.  Thank you Janice Garth and Mr. Bill Garth for the opportunity to bring you, our readers some facts fiction fun and news about the people who make the Best Music Of Your Life and the people who listen to it.  This will be a project in progress and I need your help to build it.
     MOST of you do not know me from the written word but it IS what I like to do because READING is so good for you.  Do enough of it and you’ll graduate from reading to writing, and so I did. Coincidentally my first published writing was in an office about a block from the Citizen’s doorstep.  It was at Hirsch high school where I wrote a column for the school newspaper in 1959.  Well I guess you can’t get away from the neighborhood roots and I like that.  I think the Garth building at 78th and Cottage Grove used to be a Jewel grocery store.  At a later time I will reveal what dramatic event happened in the middle of the street in front of this newspapers office many years ago.
     THIS PAGE will feature lots of stuff and things that we hope will excite your interest.  Music, Movies, TV, Radio, Books, Concerts, Plays and adult activities including dancing.  There is so much to do and so many places to go in this great city and some are overlooked with the spotlight going only to the really big events.  We plan to shine a little light on lots of things you might like.  There is so much history to be re-discovered and I’m learning about it all the time.  I’ll be sharing it with you.
     SPEAKING OF HISTORY I called our lovely receptionist Ms. Oredean Rhodes to ask for the Citizen’s anniversary month and she responded
“late April”.  With 42 years of publishing, the birth of Mr. Garth’s newspaper would be April of 1965.  So let’s take a little trip back to the time of MLK  LBJ  Richard J  Malcolm X  I SPY  Nat King Cole  The ’65 Mustang  Muhammad Ali  Vietnam  “The Sound Of Music”  public schools are desegregated by law and the Regal Theatre is still doing stage shows at 47th and South Parkway not far from the MET Record Shop.
     IT WAS A DIFFERENT WORLD in 1965 and on the radio WVON 1450 was two years old as Roy Wood reported “15,000 students marched on the White House”. Then after a WVON Jingle “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet”; you could have heard any of these songs.

“Stop In The Name Of Love = Shotgun = Nowhere To Run = We’re Gonna Make It = People Get Ready = I Do Love You = My Girl = I’ll Be Doggone = I Can’t Help Myself = Shake/Change Gonna Come = Hurt So Bad = Yes I’m Ready = Water Melon Man = Midnight hour = Nothing Can Stop Me.” BY The Supremes  Junior Walker  Martha and The Vandellas  Billy Stewart  Marvin Gaye  Sam Cook  Little Anthony  Wilson Pickett  Gene Chandler and many more.

It looks like ’65 was a big year for Motown in Chicago and everywhere, but Chicago music was touring the world with our city’s talents like The Impressions  Dells  Radiants  Alvin Cash  Etta James  Major Lance  Jackie Ross  Walter Jackson  Fontella Bass and in blues The Wolf  Muddy  Little Milton  and in jazz with Ahmad Jamal  Eddie Harris and our Ramsey Lewis.  There were thousands of lesser known but extremely talented Chicago recording artists.  Many like Minnie Riperton and Earth Wind and Fire were, so to speak, still in training. 
     ON THE AIR  The “Good Guys” ruled the radio ranch of WVON while the “Great Guys” held up WGRT prior to the station becoming WJPC under Johnson Publishing.  These were our main stations along with
WBEE and a few others, including the listening we did to WLS and WCFL.  We’ll get more into radio details in the near future and, you’re gonna love it.
     GOING OUT TONIGHT?  The Guys and Gals – Bonanza – Green Bunny – Budland – Teresas – Peps – all the places on the West side that isolated south siders didn’t get to. How about The Trianon, Parkway and all of the dance palaces of the past…we’ll be remembering as many as possible, and we’ll need your help with our research…more on that later.
     THE PEGUE PROFILES will take a look at individuals that you should know something about or at least more than you already know.
Jackie Taylor will be one of our profile people soon, revealing her plans for the Black Ensemble Theatre that might surprise you.
     NEVER MISS YOUR CLASS REUNION we wil list the information that comes our way.  You know people that have a “don’t care attitude” about going to the reunion…take the time to talk to them about attending.  The next time you hear Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” just close your eyes and enjoy…
     WKKC 89.3fm, on Sunday morning, and our on-line website THEBESTMUSICOFYOURLIFE.COM bring you six hours of “our music” and your memories.  We put a lot of work into the show so that you get more than just the songs.  Please tell your friends about the show.  We have all the songs you need to enjoy.  Out of town? Listen on the web.  We start at 10am Chicago time.  We do answer the phone as much as possible at 773 651 7785.  Requests? Yes!!! 
     THANKS AGAIN TO THE CITIZEN for the opportunity to write this weekly column and to touch you where it counts…  See you next week
when I’ll reveal what happened in front of the Citizen building many years ago.  P.S. I hope you made it out to both JAZZ Fest and the AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS, if you don’t support them they’ll go away like tap dancing.

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